Eco-friendly travel guide to Abu Dhabi advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
- Air quality: 3.5 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 4 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 3 / 5
- Public transportation: 5 / 5
- Parks: / 5
- Outdoor activities: 5 / 5
- Locals' English level: 4 / 5
- Safety: 4 / 5
- Accommodation: US$29 - $450
- Budget per day: US$77 - $650
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
The seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates, including Abu Dhabi, are known for their hard commercialization and top business affairs. Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE, is an ultra-luxurious business and travel destination. With Maseratis and Mercedes running on roads like an everyday car, and high rise buildings populating every street, Abu Dhabi has a very soft side that consists of reserves for endangered animals, a mangrove national park, and educational programs to teach the importance of wildlife protection. When visiting Abu Dhabi, don’t just enjoy its luxe dinings and fine palace-like hotels, instead be a responsible traveler. Here are a few ways you can contribute to sustainability -
- Instead of using plastic bottles, compromise on the taste and use the absolutely safe-to-drink tap-water of Abu Dhabi
- Walk. Not only is it good for health, Abu Dhabi has some of the best walking spots like the Al Emarat Park, Corniche Walkway, The NAtional Zoo and so many!
- Use the public transport system like buses and metro instead of hiring your own car. Traveling together with the
locals will give you an insider view of what life in Abu Dhabi is like.
- opt for eco-friendly hotels. Abu Dhabi is best known for its luxurious hotels that tourists can’t wait to enjoy. What most tourists don’t know is that Abu Dhabi also has many eco-friendly hotels that are no less than other luxury hotels to make you feel special.
Air Quality and Pollution
Abu Dhabi has moderate to slightly flawed air-quality. The air is contaminated with two types of pollutants, PM2.5 and PM10, both of which are very harmful to human health at higher levels. The primary contaminant is PM2.5, which has a group of 56.2% as a daily average. The leading cause of pollution is the high level of industrial smoke and cars running in the emirate. When these industrial smokes combine with fog at night, it creates smog that causes hazy vision in the day. Abu Dhabi has been conducting a program called “Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week” since 2008 to educate people about the need to control air pollution. However, it received a significant blow when the World Bank’s report in 2018 listed Abu Dhabi as “the city with the worst air,” leaving far behind China and India.
Respect the Culture
Abu Dhabi is a famous destination around the world; hence it is common to find people from different cultures and religion here. However, the UAE’s official religion is Islam, and when a country has a specific official religion, it is necessary to follow some important rules so that the local traditional believes, and views are not disrespected. Some of these are -
- If you are a non-Islamic visitor then you might not be familiar with different rules that apply when entering a mosque. Men and women are required to dress in proper decent clothing that covers their arms and legs as much as possible. Women are also required to wear a stole to cover their head, hair and neck (like a hijab does).
- As UAE is a very conservative land, certain things normal for westerners such as cross-dressing your gender, public display of affection, drinking/getting drunk on streets, unmarried couples staying in the same hotel room, rude gestures while driving, greeting with left hand, speaking ill of the royal family, and having pork are all ethically rude as well as unlawful.
Top 10 Places to Visit
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque –
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is the biggest in UAE and can accommodate at least 40,000 people. Opened in 2007, this Islamic place of worship took 20 years to be constructed and named after its founder- the late president of the country- Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It has been built with marbles and gold, its architectural style representing the three great dynasties that ruled this land of sheiks- Fatimid, Mamluk, and Ottoman. It has 83 domes, more than 1200 pillars, beautiful flower paintings, and a massive library. Non-muslims are allowed to visit this place but only with proper/covering clothes and no shoes.
- Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi –
The Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi is a Ferrari themed amusement park that opened in 2010. Covering a large area of 9ha, here you can experience everything in Ferrari-style! It has 23 thrilling attractions and rides, including four unique ‘boost-your-adrenaline’ roller-coaster rides, 4-D and 3-D experiences, fun rides for juniors, and much more! It also includes a shopping destination, casual eatery and luxury dining space, and the stunning Galleria Ferrari.
- Louvre Museum, Abu Dhabi –
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is more than just a museum. It’s often described as a ‘museum city’ as it displays an elegant collection of art, beginning from the early Neolithic period to the present century. The structure is itself a piece of art. The iconic ‘floating dome structure’ with eight layers of aluminum and iron made shapes is built to depict an oasis’s beauty.
- Qasr-Al-Hosn –
This famous historical landmark of Abu Dhabi was built in 1761, initially as a simple watchtower to protect the small village island of Abu Dhabi from foreign attacks. Later in 1796, the ruler Shakhbut bin Dhiyab Al Nahyan built several other towers to give it the shape of a fort. From time to time, the defense has been used as the seat of the ruling Sheikh, or emirs. It has now been transformed into a museum inside the fort, representing Abu Dhabi and UAE history UAE’s glorious development. An 11-day cultural program showcasing the country’s traditional dance and music is called the Qasr Al-Hosn festival is held every year, when it is fully open to the public, including the restricted areas.
- Warner Bros. World –
The Warner Bros. World, located in the Yas Island of Abu Dhabi, covers an expansive area of more than 1.60 million square meters and is the first-ever indoor themed amusement park built in the world! This fun-filled, thrilling world will take you to your childhood with its diverse offers for you. There are 6 ‘cities’ built here, including the ‘Gotham City.’ There are separate rides available for families, thrill-seekers, and kid-friendly rides too. You can also explore the Warner Bros. Plaza in the park’s center that boasts exclusive Warner Bros. merchandise and accessories.
- Yas Waterworld-
Another amusement park in Abu Dhabi and the one destination you should visit in Abu Dhabi! The word ‘enormous’ is bound to fail in front of this gigantic water-park! With more than 45 exclusive water-rides, Yas Waterworld on the Yas Island will also amaze you with its dining and shopping centers. It is a theme-based water-park about a young girl named Dana and her adventures to retrieve a pearl. Thus, the names of all rides are directed towards the story’s plot and characters. Some famous rides are- Bandit Bomber, Jebel Drop, Falcon’s Falaj, and Bubbles Barrel. The ticket prices are stated on their official website and have to be bought from there. A map of the Yas Waterworld is downloadable in pdf format.
- Corniche Road –
The Corniche Road is an 8km long beautiful famous road in Corniche of Abu Dhabi, that overlooks the Corniche beach. It stretches from the Marina Mall to the Mina Fish Market. It is not a single pedestrian walkway but a street with lanes for both directions, and ample restaurants, cafes, and hotels lining both sides of the road. There is a separate paved pedestrian walkway, and people usually rent a bicycle to enjoy the sunset while cycling.
- Marina Mall –
Although Yas Mall is the biggest mall in Abu Dhabi, Marina Mall sets a fantastic picturesque location for its view of the Corniche Beach. The mall is spread over 1.2 million sq. meters. With five levels and over 400 retail shops, it is no doubt that this enormous and beautiful mall holds showrooms of some of the most spectacular brands such as Saint Laurent, Tiffany & Co., Prada, Moschino, and more! An endless list of Marina Mall attractions includes a Mercedes-Benz showroom, an amusement ride from Bounce(a revolutionary trampoline franchise), some luxe cafes, a bowling stop, a multiplex 9-screen VOX cinema, and a Carrefour hypermarket.
- Al Jahili Fort –
Built-in 1890, the Al Jahili Fort is situated in a crucial location of Al Ain, in the southern part of Abu Dhabi Uae. Ruler Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan originally built Jahili Fort near the Al Ain oasis to protect the palm farmers. Later it was captured by Oman’s, and four watchtowers were built. This mud-and-brick structure was then a symbol of power and now a museum that shows the elegance of Abu Dhabi’s culture and heritage. During its latest restoration from 2008-2009, few original infrastructures were restored and new features such as cafes were added.
- Emirates Park Zoo –
Located on the 12th St. of Al Bahyah, Abu Dhabi, UAE, the Emirates Park Zoo has nearly 2000 animals of varying species and breeds, and is Abu Dhabi’s largest and most popular tourist destination. Here you can find exotic species such as white Siberian bears, white tigers, leopards, zebras, African lions, African elephants, Indian King Cobra, and so many more! Tourists always learn something new when visiting the Emirates Zoo Park. It also offers exclusive plans that help you get close to the wild, such as feeding the elephants and giraffes, having lunch with leopards, feeding crocodiles, feeding the zebra, and more. All ticket prices are listed in the official website, and visitors have to buy from there. Entry for children under 3 years of age is free.
Abu Dhabi is the cultural, historical, and business hub of the United Arab Emirates as well as takes the responsibility of being its capital. The city is much like a living museum infused with modern attractions. You’ll find architectures of both pure Arabic style representing the rich emirs as well as futuristic modern buildings. Exploring Abu Dhabi is best enjoyed with public transport because of its huge size. Nonetheless, you can always enjoy the option of exploring nearby things by walking or cycling.
- Umm al Emarat Park
Located close to the Airport Road, this is one of the best parks in Abu Dhabi. It is decorated with fountains, varieties of plants, a mini botanical garden, petting zoo, Shade House, Wisdom Garden, an amphitheatre and more. The wide open space allows visitors to enjoy picnics and lunch. On Saturdays a ‘Ripe Market’ sets up that sells fresh fruits and locally handcrafted items.
- Khalifa Park –
If you want to cool down from Abu Dhabi’s heat, head over to this cooling spot right in the middle of the city. It is quite a family-friendly park and covers an area of 500,000 square meters. There is ample space to relax, exercise, and play around with kids, the Cultural Library, Murjan Splash Park, and more. The yearly Abu Dhabi’s festival for Falconry is also held here.
- Family Park –
Also called ‘Family Park Corniche’ as it is located on the Corniche Road, this green space has a basketball court, palm pool, a skating area, a water park, and 5 separate themed areas such as pirate- , cars- , and rockets- themed area especially for the children. There’s allotted BBQ spaces for picnic and the park is lined with numerous trees and bushes.
- Formal Park –
Located nearby the Family Park on the Corniche Road, Formal Park despite its name, Formal Park is a very relaxing space to get away for lunch on a busy afternoon. Apart from children play area, a unique part of the Formal Park is its maze. There is also outdoor gym equipments, designated BBQ areas for picnic, a beautiful swan-themed pool, and sports track.
- Capital Gardens –
Right in the middle of the city amidst skyscrapers and busy roads, Capital Gardens in Abu Dhabi is unimaginably peaceful. Also called ‘Asima Gardens’ by the locals, it has a huge lake in the middle and plenty of green space for picnics, family time, fountains, and colorful gardens.
- Yas Gateway Park –
Definitely a hidden-gem on the Yas Island in abu Dhabi, Yas Gateway Park located next to the Yas Mall (the biggest mall in Abu Dhabi), it has 2 parts- north and south. The lush green north side is wonderful for family-time, thanks to its children play areas and bbq spots. The southern side is better for sports as it has a tennis court, and vast open green space.
- Al Wathba Wetland Reserve –
In 1998, a natural water-accumulated depression was ordered by Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to be a lawfully acclaimed wetland reserve. Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is home to more than 4000 flamingoes along with at least 254 other species of birds, diverse aquatic life, and 37 species of plants. Entry is free, and there are hides for bird-watching and 1.5km long walkway. It is best tried to reduce human touch so that the wild can remain undisturbed, thus you’ll find no cafes or restaurants, and you have to bring your own binoculars and other necessary stuff.
- Mangrove National Park –
Timing, ticket price, information, birds, kayaking, jubail. Situated in Jubail Island of Abu Dhabi, Mangrove National Park has the largest reserve (about 75%) in the whole of UAE. With dense mangrove vegetation, here you can find a lot of flora and fauna. Animal habitations include those of varieties of exotic birds, cranes, herons, crabs, and fishes. A great spot for photography, nature exploration, and bird-watching, you can also enjoy kayaking. It is open daily from 8am to 6:30 pm but timings for kayaking are different.
- Sir Bani Yas Island –
Earlier recognized as a private land of Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Sir Bani Yas is a natural island in the south of Abu Dhabi. After years of conservation work, Sir Bani Yas Island is now home to intense wildlife and flora. Among the many great species found here, some common names include the Arabian Onyx, cheetahs, gazelles, giraffes, antelopes, dolphins, and Somali Ostrich. It is open 365 days a year but you have to be a guest of the only resort in the island- Amantara, to explore the wild by safari, kayaking, snorkeling, and mountain biking.
- Jabal Hafit National Park –
Jabal Hafit (or Jebel Hafeet) is the second highest peak of UAE. These barren mountains are as photogenic as lush greenery and home to some endangered species, the most news-breaking sightings being that of Arabian caracel, Arabian leopard, and Blandford’s fox. It has the highest diversity of bird species in the whole of UAE, along with rare cactuses and dwarf palm trees. It is a site of historical significance as several tombs has been discovered dating back to the Bronze Age.
- Saadiyat Beach –
A stretch of white sand over 400 meters, Saadiyat beach in Abu Dhabi has over 100 sun lounges, eco-friendly watersports, and beach yoga classes. The beach has restriction plans on development (also a wooden bridge to the beach) to preserve native wildlife. Saadiyat Public Beach is open to all, but to access the first-class treatments of Saadiyat Beach Club you have to buy tickets.
- Corniche Beach –
The Corniche Beach is an iconic beach of Abu Dhabi with its miles of white sand, crystal blue water, epic view of the Persian Gulf. The entry tickets for the beach vary for different age groups (free for children). There are 3 sections of the beach having gates- Gate 4, Gate 2, and Gate 3. The first has free entry while the later 2 are perfect or families and has closed fence to keep it out of public noise and view.
- Al Bateen beach –
Giving a calm view of the Hudayriat Island, Al Bateen Beach in Abu Dhabi stretches over 800 meters and is a perfect and friendly spot for anyone looking for some retreat in the weekends. Honored by the Blue Flag Sustainability Award by Emirates Wildlife Authority, Al Bateen has a watersports center, a volleyball center, cafes, ample car parking space, and enough lifeguards on duty.
- Yas Beach –
Apart from all the adventure that it offers, Yas Island also has its own relaxation spot- the Yas Beach, that has natural mangrove lining, clear skies accompanied by blue waters. The entry fee for adults is only AED 50 and then you can enjoy anything on the beach. From renting a ball for the volleyball court, to the small dining kiosks and restaurants, sun lounges, pool, private chalets, and water sports such as jet skis, there are so many great things to do!
- Al Ain Oasis -
Located in the middle of the Rub al Khali desert is the UNESCO World Heritage Site - the 4000 years old Al Ain City and its oasis. History tells us how important the Al Ain Osais has been for famers and camel trekkers for generations after generations. The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization has sanctioned Al Ain's oases for their importance in maintaining biodiversity, cultural heritage, and repository of genetic resources.
- Yas Island -
- Falcon Hospital
- Qaryath Al Torath Heritage Village
- The Founder’s Memorial –
- Al Ain Palace Museum –
- Zaya Nurai Island
- Emirates National Auto Museum –
Often called as the “eccentric billionaire’s car display”, Emirates National Auto Museum is the collection of a wide range of unique prestigious cars of Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan in his own custom private pyramid. South of Abu Dhabi, in this automobile museum you can take quirky pictures of classic American cars, biggest model of Willys jeep, Sheikh Hamad’s famous Mercedes-Benz collection including an antique steam-powered Mercedes from 1885, and other vintage and custom-made cars. Timings are from 9am to 6pm every day. Although ticket price is 50 AED for adults, children can enter for free.
- Zayed Heritage Center –
Dedicated to UAE’s honorable Father of Nation- Late Sheikh Zayed, the Zayed Heritage Center is a traditional old-dated Emirati/Sheikh styled mansion, it holds all the memorable personal belongings of His Majesty, and photographs of him with famous personalities around the world. Some of the most notable items include ‘stuffed’ taxidermied animals, his blue Mercedes, and hunting rifle.
- UAE Currency Museum –
One of the best free things to do in your visit to Abu Dhabi is visiting the UAE Currency Museum. Located in the 4thfloor,ere you shall find many interesting things to learn from the informative glass displays that hold gold and silver coins, and paper notes, long before the original Arabian emirates joined to form Abu
- Qasr Al Watan Library –
What looks like a tremendous white palace from outside is actually a heaven of library. The Qasr Al Watan is one of the few presidential buildings around the world that has opened its door to the public. The massive library is structured right in the center of the Qasr al Watan Palace. Parallel to its size is the quantity of books it withholds, with over 35 years of integrated books, e-books, audio and video books, etc. from diverse fields such as science, literature, geography, business, and most importantly the cultural history.
- Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi –
The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery is a place with diverse art collections categorized as follows – scholarly, non-commercial ‘Art Gallery’ showcasing the fast growing cultural integrity, the ‘Project Space’ dedicated exclusively to experimental exhibitions of budding artists, and its unique features like the central museum space, auxiliary Project Space, and the very prestigious the annual Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award makes it a gem of UAE in Abu Dhabi.
- Folklore Gallery –
As its name suggests, the Folklore Gallery is a museum that collects and displays various types of art from different ages and time period, and exclusively those that are related to the culture and tradition of United Arab Emirates. They also love showcasing works provided by local artists, locally handmade Bedouin jewelry, ceramics and greeting cards. They also offer services such as printing and framing of art/pictures.
On hearing the name of “United arab Emirates”, the first thought that comes to mind is the lavish lifestyle lead by Sheikhs in the country. Contraty to the items for a lavish life are the basic ingredients used traditionally in the dishes of Arab. The basic staple food consists of rice, fish, and meat (chicken, goat, lamb). Some of the basic spices included in almost every food recipes are the popular South East Asian spices- turmeric, cumin, cardamom, saffron, and herbs such as basil, thyme, mint, etc. As Abu Dhabi has been attracting millions of tourists from all over the world, you will find every type of international cuisine whether its American, Korean, Indian, or African. Some of the best traditional dishes and must try food in abudhabi are
- Al Kabsa –
Also known as Majboos, it is a dish served with the combination of rice and chicken. First the chicken is cooked in a thin spicy broth full of tomatoes. Then the chicken is grilled/roasted while white rice is cooked in the spicy chicken broth. Both are plated together topped with thyme.
- Harees –
A traditional special dish that is usually cooked during special occasions. First the wheat and salted chicken is mixed with spices and cooked for a few hours at simmering flame. When the meat completely breaks down in wheat, the contents are then transferred to a clay pot and buried in sand full of hot coals for a few hours. After a long wait, you are served with tender meat coated with wheat and spices, drizzled with ghee.
- Luqaimat –
A famous dessert originating in Abu Dhabi of UAE, these are little balls of dough infused with saffron, deep fried, and then submerged in a bowl of date syrup till the balls soak it well. A classic of local dishes, and you surely don’t want to miss it for Shawarma or hummus, try them too!
Traditional Local Restaurants
- Meylas –
To be a responsible tourist also means to support the local small businesses of your destination. Meylas is one such place. It was found by Shaikha Al Kaabi, a young woman of Abu Dhabi who is an enthusiast in preserving the traditional style of cooking local dishes, and sharing them with the world. It serves exclusively traditional Emirati cuisine prepared in custom traditional style. The best thing about Meylas is that it supports local handicrafts such as totes, postcards, items made of wickerware, and also sells them. The must try dishes are – Majboos and Balaleet.
- Al Fanar Restaurant and Café –
Al Fanar Restaurant and café is one of the best places to try Emirati/gulf cuisine. Boasting an outdoor seating in barasti style, indoor rooms made in traditional mud-brick style, and a mini souk, with locally made décor items, Al Fanar Restaurant serves the best of Nagar Nasheef, and Al Madrooba. It has its branches in Dubai as well as in UK.
- Al Maqam –
If you’ve booked a tour to Arabian Nights Village, then you sure don’t want to miss this opportunity to dine in traditional Bedouin style with cushion floor seating, locally handmade crockery with Arabian calligraphy, and palm-thatched terrace right in the middle of the dessert. WOW! Adding more authenticity are the live cooking and bread-making sessions right in front of the dining space! You can choose from local UAE dishes, royal Arabian banquets, as well as perfectly mastered international cuisine.
- Seven Spices –
Fancy tasting dishes from all over UAE just by visiting Abu Dhabi? Think no further and head over to Seven Spices right in the middle of the city. Boasting traditional dishes with local spices from each of the seven emirates that make up United Arab Emirates, you’ll also find traditional arab dishes that are cooked in contemporary style.
- Yadoo’s House –
Literary meaning “grandmother’s house”, you can enjoy local and traditional dishes in an environment that’s as Warm and welcoming as a family. It is located on the Muroor St. and the quantity served is very filling, a perfect place for families as well as group-dining.
Vegetarian and Vegan
- Bareburger –
Dedicated solely to the love of burgers, for vegans, by vegans. Yes, that’s the motive of Bareburger so that you don’t have to sacrifice on that excruciating taste of burgers for the sake of veganism. Their 2 signature dishes are Farmstead and Guadalupe burger. Apart from these, they also serve other tasty gluten-free snacks for brunch or evening, everything made organically by plant-based products.
- Hoi An –
If you ever get the wild thought of tasting Vietnamese food in Abu Dhabi, you should head over to Hoi An. Not only does it serve authentic Vietnamese food, but they are all bend to meet the vegan lifestyle. They deliciously make this contemporary vegan food by 100% organic and plant-based product. No meat flavoring is used too!
- Pizza Di Rocco –
We all know cheese is the soul of a pizza, and cheese is an animal-based product. So how do you ever wonder a fancy about ‘Vegan Pizza’?! Well, Pizza Di Rocco introduced a completely new menu of delicious vegan pizzas that use vegan mozzarella cheese or faux meat which a meat-like substitute made from plants (it includes gluten). Located on Salam Street, Al Dharah and in Etihad Plaza, the must try pizza is Pizza Patron.
- Avasa –
Avasa is one hell of an Indian restaurant that serves a full vegan menu with 19 dishes to fill your soul! Located on the Saadiyat island, here you can get exclusive Indian street food like pakoras that are fully vegan, along with custom vegan biriyani.
- Samboosa –
By sight it might look what in India is known by the name of s ‘Samosa’. However, apart from fillings made of veggies and spices, the Emirati version Samboosa contains meat fillings like minced lamb, beef or chicken, unlike the Indian version- Samosa. A favorite tea-time snack, it can also be consumed any time of the day.
- Shawarma –
Shawarma is actually a Lebanese street food but often confused as an Emirati street food. This street food that gained its immense popularity in UAE is what most westerners often term as “wrap”. Delicious veggies mixed soul-filling amount of hummus, along with tender juicy meat (chicken/lamb/beef) is wrapped in Lebanese bread which has already been lined with lettuce leaves. It’s more delicious that it sounds, imagine the craze!
- Manakkish –
It looks like a pizza and is almost made like it. Manakkish is a great street comfort food that is made by topping a generous amount of cheese on flat circular bread, topped with various types, and a good quantity of vegetables and meat (getting me why it’s almost like pizza). It is then baked in an oven and served with thyme toppings and a little drizzle of olive oil. The best part- customers can choose their own toppings of veggies and meat, and thus serves a great choice for vegans/vegetarians.
- Shish Tawouk Sandwich –
A must in the menu of every street food stall in Abu Dhabi, UAE is the Shish Tawouk Sandwich. It is an extremely delicious and filling dish made with veggies and pickles mixed with soft tender shish kebab (small pieces of chicken that has marinated with spices and herbs and grilled on a skewer). It is a must try street food while exploring Abu Dhabi.
- Fareed –
A very popular dish during the Islamic festival- Iftaar, Fareed is a comfort and nutritious street food. It is made from bread pieces cooked in a tasty and healthy meat and vegetable stew.
- Arabic coffee –
Arabic Coffee or Gahwaa (as it is called locally) is the most popular local and traditional dish of UAE. It has been prepared for centuries by the Saudi arab people. It is an Arabic locally brewed coffee that is traditionally prepared by burring the Arabic coffee pot “dallah” in hot sand for hours and then served in small cups along with dates. It’s rich aroma and taste is sure to win hearts!
- Arabic teas –
Arab people drink a variety of teas. Tea, as well as coffee is equally famous among the locals of UAE. Arabic tea can range from strong black tea, to herbal varieties such as sage tea, cinnamon tea, anison tea, etc. The Masala Chai which is a famous Indian beverage is called as Chai Karak and is prepared by brewing tea leaves with Indian spices. It is evtremely popular with the locals.
- Limonana –
The name says it all, Limon – lemon, ow – and, nana – mint. Hence, it stands for chilled lemonade seved with mint toppings and ice cubes. Limonana is a very popular drink to cool off summer heat in Abu Dhabi as well as other Middle Eastern countries.
Tap water in Abu Dhabi and in the whole of UAE is very much safe to drink. The 2 sources of water in UAE are- desalinated water from the sea, and groundwater. In Abu Dabi, the ground water is used for agriculture in Al Ain, while the desalinated water which is purified by reverse osmosis, is supplied throughout the city as tap-water. Earlier many people used to buy bottled or packaged drinking water because of the taste of tap water. However, the “Drop It” campaign lead by Tatiana Antonelli Abella urged people to use activated charcoal filter in faucets to remove any undesirable taste. The use of RO Filter was discouraged as it would remove the minerals present in the water. Almost every café and restaurant in Abu Dhabi uses tap-water to prepare their dishes.
- Marl’s Organic –
Run by a loving local couple, this small friendly organic café was opened to serve people a better and healthy lifestyle. They have separate menus for breakfast, snacks, nibbles, for main course, organic drinks, and in fact a very special kids menu. They also serve special meals of the day daily. Marl’s Organic is definitely a must try if you’re visiting Abu Dhabi.
- Organic Foods and Café –
Organic Foods and Café is a family-run café opened in 2004 that provides its customers with mouth-watering organically prepared dishes. They buy from handpicked local farmers whom they’ve personally visited. They also add new range of fresh and delectable fruits and veg dishes every month to keep their customers excited and interested. OFC also has a separate vegan menu for those who wish.
- Green for Life Café –
Green for Life Café is a homegrown café that believes in sustainability. Green for Life uses strictly fresh locally grown produce from local farmers, and use no preservatives or flavorings in their dishes. They serve nutritious bowls and healthy grills for breakfast, and their baristas do sure know how to make the best smoothie in the city of Abu Dhabi.
- Café 302 –
Café 302 is definitely one of the best organic and vegan cafes you’ll be visiting in Abu Dhabi. With its deliciously handpicked vegan items for breakfast, brunch, lunch, evening snacks, and dinner, they also serve 100% organic coffee.
- Sidehustle brews –
Sidehustle is an original brewing company found in Abu Dhabi, UAE, by Chad, Wayne and his team. The company has launched beer flavors that have been bent exclusively for the Emirati people. They use 100% local ingredients including hops that are produced by their sister company. Logistical Nightmare BA Stout, Cloudy with a Chance of …, The Perfect Distraction, Watermelon Mint Hard Seltzer, 51 degrees, Boozie Brunch juice, and Sand Storms are some of their most memorable flavors that are released depending on the season.
- At sunset, visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and witness its spectacular beauty of pearl white Macedonian marbles and shining gold façade.
- Visit the heaven of enjoyment in Abu Dhabi at Yas Island.
- Enjoy sunset and cycling at the Corniche Beach
- Feed the animals (legally) and have a lunch with big cats at the Emirates Park Zoo
- Get closer to falcons, the symbol of Arabia, at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
- Enjoy camel rides in the desert safari
- Stroll around the beautiful art pieces at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
- Have a bird’s eye view of the richest city in the world- Abu Dhabi, at the ‘Observation Deck at 300’.
- Enjoy sky diving, a very popular sport for tourists
- Go kayaking amidst the mangroves at Mangrove National Park of Abu Dhabi
- Enjoy the lucrative and delicious Emirati cuisine at The Emirates Palace
Yoga and Retreats
- Shangri-La Hotel in Abu Dhabi –
Two of the best yoga instructors in Dubai- Sabine and Caroline organize a soul-healing hatha and flow yoga session for the first day while the rest of the days are followed by laidback retreats in the luxurious service of the world-famous Shangri-La Hotel.
- The Hot House –
The Hot House is a yoga-retreat located at the Al Reha Beach. It is a fantatic place that teaches all types of yoga for everyone- beginners, to pro, and even to those who need help with arthritis and joint pain with growing age.
- The Bodytree Studio –
Bodytree Studio is the gold standard that sets body health right along with mental health. They offer diverse range of yoga, for beginners to experts. Their staff is as friendly as professional, and they have their very own juice bar that provides best nutritional juices, made specifically to meet your needs with the help of enthusiastic nutritionists present right on spot!
Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates capital, has a wide variety of hotels, guest houses, and other accommodation options. You can enjoy the top-notch service and luxury of hotels such as The Emirates Palace and enjoy the same treatment in an eco-friendly hotel. Options like camping in between the desert near an oasis, just like a classic traditional Arabic camel traveler, make life so much more exciting and worth remembering!
- Qar Al Sarab –
Peacefully isolated from the hustle and bustle of Abu Dhabi is the eco-friendly hotel of Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort in the Liwa Desert. This green hotel is a part of the famous Middle Eastern hotel group- Anantara. With high-end facilities and incredible plans such as desert night camp that will give you a glimpse of what life was like in ancient abudhabi, Qasr Al Sarab also maintains recycling, reusing, sustainable waste management, and proper sewage system very strictly.
- Eastern Mangroves Hotels & Spa –
The Eastern Mangroves Hotels & Spa is another green project by Anantara. Located in the majestic Eastern Mangroves of Abu Dhabi, the sleek and minimalistic design of this hotel comes with spacious rooms private entrances, and their signature Hammam Treatments. They use sustainable initiatives to measure its use of water and energy.
- Park Hyatt Hotels and Villas –
The Saadiyat Beach is an important wildlife conservation center in Abu Dhabi with endangered Hawksbill Turtle residing in its protected 8km stretch of white sand. The Saadiyat Protection Dune Zone serving as its landmark, the Park Hyatt has high-end facilities within culturally designed hotel and villas. They have also received LEED certification and are now providing educational programs to educate people about the importance of wildlife conservation.
Hostels and Guest Houses
- Joy Guest House -
Joy Guest HoThe 26th building of the 6th Street Villa is where you’ll find The Joy Guest House. Set within a few kilometers from Abu Dhabi’s top attractions such as Al Bateen Beach, Joy Guest House offers a comfortable and home-like designed guest house with fuly furnished rooms along with washing machine, a private fully equipped bathroom with hair-dryer and hot tub. Rooms are also provided with a work desk and a kettle. There’s also a balcony and a beautifully decorated terrace.
- KEPCO Guest House –
A well maintained old-fashioned guest house in Abu Dhabi, KEPCO Guest House is loved by customers for their friendly staff, good quality food, comfortable interiors and well furnished and comfortable rooms. Since most of the accommodation centers for tourists are quite luxurious and costly, you can choose KEPCO Guest House for a good standard quality living on medium budget.
- Backpacker Accmmodation –
there aren’t any such typical hostel in the vast city of Abu Dhabi except the Backpacker Accommodation. Here you literally get what you pay for. It has double-decker beds, a single community bathroom, room service, and payable washing machine.
- Bab Al Qasr Residence –
The Bab Al Qasr Residence is located within 5 km of Qasr al Hosn. It offers a splendid view of the city, with a private beach/pool, free parking, free la carte breakfast, hot tub, and comfortable spacious rooms including all amenities such as flat screen TV and fully equipped modernized kitchen. It also has a sun-terrace and a beautiful garden for relaxing!
- Grand Mercure Abu Dhabi –
Located in the heart of Abu Dhabi I'm just 30 minutes away from the Abu Dhabi International Airport Grand Mercure offers amazing hospitality Get all rooms having a satellite TV fully equipped modernized kitchen and a fully equipped bathroom with essential toiletries and a hot tub. keeping in mind the business-oriented guests the hotel also offers 5 conference and meeting rooms, and a business center. it also offers a luxurious swimming pool by 5 private parking airport shuttle and a fully equipped fitness center, and currency exchange, all of which are free.
- Uptown Hotel Apartment –
Located in the downtown of Abu Dhabi, it offers a spectacular view of the Corniche. Boasting its very own hotel that serves both International and Arabian Cuisine, and a Town Coffee Shop, Uptown Hotel Apartment also provides basic amenities like free Wi-Fi, washing machine, fully equipped kitchen, fitness center, and room service. You can also exchange your currency in he reception.
- The Capital Center Arjaan –
The Capital Center Arjaan by Rotana is located 20-minutes drive from the Yas Island. Build with 259 deluxe fully equipped and furnished suites and studios, this aparthotel also provides with high-quality living facilities like its own fitness line- Bodline Fitness and Wellness Club, an outdoos temperature controlled pool, restaurant, café, airport shuttle, and free parking with Wi-Fi.
- Al MahaArjaan Hotel Apartment –
The Al MahaArjaanHote Apartment by Rotana company is set in Abu Dhabi’s business district. Al MahaArjaan is just a few minutes’ drive away from all of Abu Dhabis landmarks and tourist spots such as Saadiyat Island, its 3 main shopping destnations, Yas Marian Circuit, etc. It also offers free airport shuttle but a paid parking, a professional recreation center- Bodyline Wellness and Fitness Club, and the famous Café 302. A perfect getaway at a perfect location waiting for your arrival!
Couchsurfing is an online community where travelers (termd as coushsurfers) share their interests and details with another couchsurfer, who’s a local resident of the destination, called as the Host. A couchsurfer takes shelter In a host’s resident for free, thus also having the benefit of acquiring cultural knowledge and ethics from a local. Visit the online community to know more – www.couchsurfing.com
- Al Dhafra Beach
Covering around two-third of Abu Dhabi’s deserts is the desert of the Al Dhafra Beach where the desert meets the ocean. It is recommended to drive along the old E11 drive and follow signs by taking a 4WD, as it is off-road driving. Access to the beach is limited only to the members of Al-Dhafra Golf Link(Club). So make sure to buy a membership before visiting to enjoy experience Al Dhafra to its fullest.
- Liwa Desert –
Called as the ‘Empty Quarter’, Liwa Desert is mostly for experienced/bold campers. Isolated completely from the civilized world, the Empty Quarter has nothing but miles and miles of sand, natural sand dune formations, and desrt wildlife. Take the E11 West, and take the exit for E45 Madinat Zayed and Mezaira’a. Bring a 4WD with as much petrol as possible, more than required amount of water, and ample food that is good for desert weather, along with other camping essentials.
How to Get There
A name that everyone has heard of is the name of Abu Dhabi. It is possible to get here by any means of transportation such as air, bus, taxi, or waterway such as cruise. The only way international/foreign tourists get to Abu Dhabi (if they haven't landed on any other emirate of UAE) is by air. Otherwise, intercity buses running from Abu Dhabi to any other UAE emirate are very cheap and common, making it easier for travelers to save some money from buying another flight ticket.
Abu Dhabi, the UAE's capital, is one of the most popular and busiest destinations for tourism and business around the world. Eight airlines have direct flights to Abu Dhabi – GoAir, Oman Air, KLM, Delta, Gulf Air, Air New Zealand, Bangkok Airways, and Kenya Airways. Apart from these, you can also get an indirect flight from any city around the world.
You can travel to Abu Dhabi from Any other Emirate of UAE like Sharjah and Dubai. The two municipalities off Abu Dhabi and Dubai jointly run a bus service called the Emirates express, a 2-hour journey. Buses in the UAE do not accept cash from passengers. Instead, you have to pay for the bus phase by Hafilat cad. So before you get on a bus in UAE load your card with money as it is very convenient to do. You just swipe your card before and after every trip, and the fare is calculated automatically.
The UAE's federal government has undertaken a project that will set stones for the first railway line ever in UAE. Etihad Rail will be 1,200 km long. In the south, it will run-up to the border of Saudi Arabia, and in the east, it will touch Oman. It will have several freight terminals, distribution centers, and depots located close to major transport hubs, warehouses, and storage facilities across the UAE. By connecting all the seven emirates and link the other five countries of the GCC: the Kingdom of Bahrain, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, State of Kuwait, and Sultanate of Oman, it is meant to reduce business travel time highly. The project is expected to be completed by 2024.
Hitchhiking is completely legal in the United Arab Emirates. The oldest and most popular online hitchhikers community, called the hitchwiki, has many shared experiences of hitchhikers who found it extremely easy and convenient to ride from one Emirate to another of UAE, the most common route being Dubai to Abu Dhabi and vice versa.
In Abu Dhabi, the Department of Transport operates ferry services for passengers and vehicles between Delma Island and the mainland of Abu Dhabi (Mugharaq Port, Marsa Jabal Al Dhanna). The ferries operate daily. They are free for those below 12 years. Others will be charged AED 20. For every vehicle to be transported, the charge is 100 AED. Passengers must carry a valid ID card and the car registration card to travel on the ferry if taking a car along.
Do strangers moving around in Abu Dhabi might seem difficult because of its heavy traffic throughout the day. However, this is not true. The traffic in Abu Dhabi is maintained very well, and despite a huge number of vehicles, there is rarely any inconvenience caused. The most common public transport available for the people staying in Abu Dhabi are taxis, buses, buy cycle hire, car hire, and self-driving.
Despite common myths that Abu Dhabi is best explored by car, you can also explore this beautiful city by walking. All you need is good guidance via maps, and if you know a little bit of the local language, Voila! You’re all set to go! A couple of things you must follow are- 1. To apply loads of sunscreen, and 2. Make sure to stay hydrated and carry enough water. Some of the best places to stroll around in Abu Dhabi are the Corniche, Mangroves National Park, and the beautiful city parks.
Although cycling is a widespread option in almost every city, Abu Dhabi is not a cyclist-friendly city. Bicycles are available for rent at various locations along the Corniche pathway as well as on the fun-filled Yas Island.
Electric cars are available in Abu Dhabi bought by Tesla, BMW, Chevrolet, Renault, Hyundai, Ford, Nissan, Porsche, and Jaguar. UAE is slowly moving towards sustainable sources of energy, replacing the mainstream petrol cars. There are a total of 12 charging stations in Abu Dhabi. ADNOC Distribution aims to set up 20 more charging stations in Abu Dhabi to meet the increasing demand for electric vehicles.
The most locally common and economical way of public transport in Abu Dhabi is the bus system. The air-conditioned buses charge a flat fare of AED 2 traveling within Abu Dhabi, and trips to suburbs cost an additional 5 AED. The regional bus services are operated in the city by the Department of transport. The Halifat card is used for the process of payment, so make sure you reload the card before getting on the bus.
Tram, Train and Subway
The government of Abu Dhabi is planning a tram network as a part of a long-lasting transport strategy, but nothing has been materialized. Abu Dhabi has a planned metro line, which will be composed of 4 lines of 18 kilometers (when completed), including a subway metro line of 11 kilometers, which has two metro lines and bus rapid transit.
Sustainable shopping is a way you can contribute to the environment by buying eco-friendly things that are made by not harming nature and wildlife and will not contribute to any kind of pollution. BiOrganic, Kibsons, My city center Masdar, Ripe market, Coco Yoca, and The Honest counter are some of the stores where you can do sustainable shopping.
• Abu Dhabi Dates Market:
Since the dates are iconic to the Arab culture, is an entire market dedicated to the fruit. It is locally called as Mina Dates market
• Abu Dhabi Farmer’s Market:
It is located in the city’s heart and is one of the best places for shopping if you are looking for fresh items. A large variety of organic fruits and vegetables are available here at reasonable rates, which makes this place popular among the locals.
• Al Ain Souk:
It is one of the few markets in Abu Dhabi, which is successful in preserving the typical Arab outdoor marketplace. It's one of the favorite spots of foreigners soaking up the delightful atmosphere of this market. Its recommended to bring your camera as this place offers the opportunity to capture the Abu Dhabi market's original spirit.
• Sheraton Abu Dhabi Flea market:
This is one of the oldest and most popular flea markets in town. Held three to four times a year, the secondhand charity flea market is a popular haunt for bargain shopping.
• Saturday Market at Yas Island:
We can find all those once-loved treasures and trinkets at Yas Island’s biggest community market. Organized by Tiny Bean Events, this secondhand market is a huge hit. With bouncy castles, a musical water fountain, and a shaded playground, the market is as much a family event as a bargain hunting ground.
• Pipssqueak chic:
This consignment shop based in Al Raha Gardens organizes flea markets for mothers who don’t want to spend a fortune on maternity and kids' wear. Pipssqueak Chic has a huge collection of pre-used children’s wear available in all age groups.
• St. Andrew’s Thrift Store:
This one is run purely for and on charity. Located at the St. Andrew’s Church in Mushriff, this secondhand shop sells used and unwanted goods donated by churchgoers for charity.
Second Hand Stores
You can buy used furniture from this store at cheap and effective rates. Even used electronics are also available here. Golden sands furniture, Bayt Al Helw, Al Thahani, and Al MAS are renowned and good places for the purpose. Dalma Mall in Abu Dhabi is famous for the selling of second-hand cars. Kashi Ukay is a good place to find second-hand clothing. Second-hand stores also open their doors in the Flea Market.
With the growth in the number of eco-conscious consumers, more brands are inclined towards sustainable and eco-friendly fashion pieces. These pieces are produced in fewer quantities, and it takes a lot of time to manufacture, but the result is definitely worth it. All of them provide long-lasting, fashionable, and classy clothes made from reused fibers to organic cotton, peaceful silk, and other eco-friendly varieties. • Darin Hacem • Abadia • Sarah’s Bag • Asmaraia • Okhetin • BLSSD
The waste management and city cleaning service will come and pick up your recycling from your doorstep. Plastics, metals, cardboard, glass, and many such items are picked up and are recycled properly. Abu Dhabi’s first recycling station was set up near Khalidiyah Park, and now there are several other points across the cities where you can recycle wood, cardboard, mobile phones, used batteries, and plastics. The center of waste management runs colorful bins in Abu Dhabi.
Most of the waste materials end up in municipal landfills or dumpsites, where organic waste generates a large amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Currently, a little waste is burnt, and recycling is rapidly increasing. Abu Dhabi Sewage Services company looks after collecting and treating wastewater discharged from all residential and commercial customers. ADSCC launched an AED 5.7 billion Strategic tunnel Enhancement Programme in 2009, including building a 41-kilometer deep sewer tunnel.
Work and Study Abroad
The UAE government offers tax-free income, allowing professionals to achieve high savings and meaning that building a strong financial future is one of the many reasons to live and work in Abu Dhabi. Convenient working hours and high standards are part of the attraction. Abu Dhabi is a safe and peaceful place to study. Students are likely to find the residents warm, welcoming, and willing to share their culture and learn about others. It is an open and tolerant society, coupled with one of the lowest crime rates worldwide, has also made this a destination of choice. Abu Dhabi is moving from an oil-based economy to one driven by innovation and knowledge; the emirate has invited internationally recognized educational institutions to contribute to the next generation's growth and support the nation’s economic development.
One of the programs is the student exchange program by the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi, which gives visiting students the opportunity to experience the United Arab Emirates while gaining transferable credits towards their engineering degree. There are a variety of US Government-sponsored exchange programs that link Emiratis and Americans, such as the Fulbright Program. These programs are designed to give Emirati citizens an enriching academic, professional, and personal experience in the United States and provide them with a chance to exchange ideas with their American counterparts.
Au pair in an online community where a person (generally a young female) gets to stay with a host family in a selected location for studying in an Abu Dhabi university or school or to gain knowledge about the culture by living like a local, all in exchange of a safe shelter, food and some pocket expenses for looking after their house or by being a nanny. Many families in Abu Dhabi accept and look out for Au Pairs. Go to the community at www.aupair.com to see more.
Many volunteering services for tourists are available in Abu Dhabi. The Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi has entitled the DCT Volunteer Program to instill a culture of charity and humanitarian work to better the Nation and is open for anyone to join. The platform also offers access to Volunteer.ae as a partner organization that hosts hundreds of volunteer projects in Abu Dhabi and UAE for all to access in Abu Dhabi and other emirates of UAE.